Guide to Optimal Maintenance & Reliability--Workforce Management [part 1]

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"What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand." - Kung Fu Tzu (Confucius)

  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Terminology
  • 3 Employee Life Cycle
  • 4 Understanding the Generation Gap
  • 5 Communication Skills
  • 6 People Development
  • 7 Resource Management and Organization Structure
  • 8 Measures of Performance
  • 9 Summary
  • 10 QUIZ

Learning goals:

  • • Deming's view to improve organizational effectiveness
  • • Employee life cycles
  • • Generation gaps and the aging workforce
  • • Communication issues
  • • People development-related issues
  • • Training types and benchmarks
  • • Diversity challenges
  • • Challenges in managing the workforce, including organization structures and outsourcing

1. Introduction

People make it happen. They get things done. We may have great plans and the best processes, but if we don't have the people available with the right skills, these plans and processes can't be implemented or carried out effectively. Developing people-the workforce-and empowering them to give their best is key to defining the difference between an ordinary company and a great organization. In addition, the right processes and technology must be in place to nurture and harness the potential of human capital.

Maintenance and reliability processes are no different than any other processes in the workplace. Organizations that are considered to be the "Best of the Best" or "World Class" use many of the same key principles.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming, a world-renowned expert in the field of quality, gave us the following 14 principles, which any organization can use to improve its effectiveness.

1. Create constancy of purpose towards improvement.

Replace short-term reaction with long-term planning. Aim to become competitive and stay in business.

2. Adopt the new philosophy.

We’re in a new economic age. Management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change rather than merely expect the workforce to do so.

3. Cease dependence on inspection.

If variation is reduced, there is no need to inspect manufactured items for defects, because there won't be any. Build quality into the product in the first place. Inspection is not a value-added activity.

4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag (minimum cost). Move towards a single supplier for any one item. Multiple suppliers mean variation between feedstocks. Build a long-term relationship and trust with suppliers.

5. Improve constantly and forever.

Strive constantly to improve the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly to decrease costs.

6. Institute training on the job.

If the people-the workforce-are not adequately prepared and trained to do the job right, they will introduce variation and defects. New skills are required to keep up with changes in materials, methods, products, and services.

7. Institute leadership.

There is a distinction between leadership and mere supervision. The latter is quota and target based. The aim of supervision should be to help people, machines, and gadgets to perform a better job.

8. Drive out fear.

Deming sees management by fear as counter-productive in the long term because it prevents people from acting in the organization's best interests.

9. Break down barriers between departments.

All in the organization working in research, design, sales, operations/production, and maintenance must work as a team, to foresee operations/production problems and customer satisfaction issues that may be encountered with the product or service. The organization should build the concept of the internal customer that each department serves-not the management, but the other departments that receive its outputs.

10. Eliminate slogans and exhortations.

It's not people who make most mistakes; it's the process they are working within. Eliminate the use of slogans, posters, and exhortations for the workforce, demanding zero defects or zero breakdowns and new levels of productivity, without providing improved methods. Harassing the workforce without improving the processes they use is counter-productive.

11. Eliminate arbitrary numerical targets.

Eliminate work standards that prescribe quotas for the work force and numerical goals for people in management. Substitute aids and helpful leadership in order to achieve continual improvement of quality and productivity.

12. Permit pride of workmanship.

Remove the barriers that rob people of the pride of workmanship. The responsibility of managers, supervisors, and foremen must be changed from sheer numbers to quality. Allow employees to see their end product.

Doing so creates ownership and helps to generate new ideas for improvement.

13. Institute education and self-improvement.

Institute a vigorous program of education, training, and encouraging self improvement for everyone. What an organization needs is not just good people; it needs people who are improving with education.

Advances in competitive position in the market place will have their roots in knowledge.

14. The transformation is everyone's job.

Create a structure in top management that will push every day on the preceding points. Take action in order to accomplish the transformation.

Support is not enough; action is required. Put everybody in the organization to work to accomplish the transformation.

Most of Dr. Deming's principles relate to the workforce, including management and their role in acquiring, preparing, and educating the workforce as well as improving the processes to get productivity gains.

These points can be applied to any organization, small to large, and to any industry (services, manufacturing, etc.).

In this section, we will be discussing people-the workforce. What do we need to do to hire the right people, prepare them with the right skill sets, and then retain them to perform their job effectively? This topic is a very important challenge in today's global economy and demographically diverse workforce.

2 Terminology

Baby boomers

The generation born following World War II. They are idealists in nature and usually very loyal to their organization. They feel a sense of belonging and dedication based on their history. They are motivated by power and prestige, learning opportunities, and long-term benefits.


The result of meeting the established criteria set by an accrediting or certificate-granting organization.


Effective transfer of information from one party to another; exchanging information between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.

Diversity (Workplace)

Workplace diversity refers to the variety of differences between people in an organization. Diversity encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background, and more.


Involvement A practice within an organization whereby employees regularly participate in making decisions on how their work areas operate, including making suggestions for improvement, planning, goal setting, and monitoring performance.

Employee Life Cycle

The entire useful life of an employee from hiring to retiring.

During this time, a person learns new skills and becomes a productive employee until retirement.

Generation Xers

People born primarily from the mid-1960s through the 1970s.

They are very ambitious and independent in nature and strive to balance the competing demands of work, family, and personal life.

Generation Y'ers

People born after 1980, also known as the millennial generation.

They are technologically savvy with a positive, can-do attitude.

Job Task Analysis

An analysis of the various elements pertaining to skill requirements, training and experience, mental and physical demands, working conditions, hazards exposure, and requirements of responsibilities of performance for a particular job.

Organization Structure (Chart)

Diagram or graphic representation of an organization that shows, to varying degrees, the functions, responsibilities, people, authority, and relationships among these.

Qualified People

People who because of their knowledge, training, qualifications, certification, or experience, are competent to perform the duties of their job.

Succession Planning

A key element of the workforce development process. It identifies and prepares suitable employees through mentoring, training, and job rotation to replace key players in the organization.

3. Employee Life Cycle

An employee life cycle covers the steps employees go through from the time they are hired into an organization until they leave. Human Resource professionals often focus their attention on the steps in this process in hopes of making an impact on the organization's bottom line.

Normally, their goal is to reduce the organization's cost per employee hired, which theoretically is a good thing. However, this should not be the only goal because they aren't the ones who can make them stay willingly and be productive with the organization. The managers for whom newly hired employees are going to work can make the real difference in employees wanting to stay and their adding value to the organization.

On a practical day-to-day basis, employees don't really work for an organization; they work for somebody-the boss. To the extent that there can be good bosses, they can keep employees motivated, happy, and productive, thereby reducing the costs associated with employee turnover. In turn, managers can make their employees' jobs easier and increase value to the organization.

One important job of a manager is to ensure that employees under stand the key purpose of the organization. For example, from day one, all Disney employees are told that they (Disney) create happiness in their guests. Also, Disney calls their customers their guests. Guest is a better word and has a deeper meaning than customer. It suggests more intimacy, closeness to that person. These kind of practices help instill the right culture in an employee from their first day.

Employees are one of an organization's largest expenses these days.

Unlike other major capital costs such as buildings, machinery, and technology, human capital is highly volatile. Managers are placed into key positions to reduce that volatility by reducing the overall life cycle cost of employees in the organization. This life cycle consists of four steps:

• Hire

• Inspire

• Admire

• Retire Hire

This first step is probably the most important. It’s important to hire the best people we can find. This is not a time to be cheap. The cost of replacing a bad hire far exceeds the marginal additional cost of salary or expenses needed to hire the best person in the first place. Hire talent, not just trainable skills. Skills can be taught to a talented employee.

Make your organization a place people want to come to and work for.

An organization's culture can be a powerful recruiting tool. Ensure that the new hire understands the goals your department or organization wants to achieve.


Once we have recruited the best employees to come to work on our team, the hard part begins. We have to inspire them to perform to their best abilities. We have to challenge and motivate them. That is where we will get their best effort and creativity that will help the organization excel.

Make them welcome. Make them feel like part of the team from day one. Set goals for them that are hard, but achievable. Be a leader, not just a manager. It’s a good practice to assign a mentor to help them get acquainted with the new environment.

Mentoring is another good practice to implement during early stages for new employees to help them adjust to a new environment. It’s a good practice to assign a senior person in the area to mentor new employees.


Once we have hired the best employees and have challenged and motivated them, our job to inspire them continues. The biggest mistake is made when a manager ignores them. As soon as we start to slack off, their satisfaction and motivation decreases. If we don't do something, they will become disenchanted and will leave. They will become part of the "employee turnover" statistics that need to be avoided.

We want TGIM (thank goodness, it's Monday) employees, not TGIF (thank goodness, it's Friday) ones.

Give employees positive feedback as much as possible, even if it's just a few good words. Provide appropriate rewards and recognition for jobs well done. Provide them additional training to develop new skill sets.


The time when somebody retires after a long service is when we know that we have been successful. When employees see the organization as the employer of choice, they will come and work for us. When they recognize us as a good boss and a real leader, they will stay around. As long as we continue to inspire, motivate, and challenge them, they will continue to contribute at the high levels the organization needs in order to beat the competition. They will be long-term employees; even staying with the organization until they retire. They will refer other quality employees, including their relatives. Organizations will attract and retain second and even third generation loyal employees.

Along the way, the organization will have had some of the most creative and productive employees with the lowest employee costs in the market.

4. Understanding the Generation Gap

There is a shortage of skilled industrial workers, the people who operate and maintain sophisticated assets/systems on the plant floor, as well as engineering and management professionals. This shortage poses a serious threat to our industrial competitiveness. The shortage lies in the demo graphics as most veterans have left the workplace and baby boomers are getting close to their retirement. Predominately four generations of workers co-exist in today's workplace. The following list reflects William Strauss and Neil Howe's organization from their guide Generations:

Silent Born 1925-1942

Baby Boom Born 1943-1960

Generation X Born 1961-1981

Generation Y Born 1982-2001

The differences between the generations create many challenges in the workplace. These challenges, which can be both negative and positive, often relate to variations in perspective and goals as a result of generational differences. This area gets further complicated because of the age differences between managers and employees. Organizations can't assume that people of varying ages will understand each other or have the same perspectives and goals. In order to be successful, there is a need to understand and value the generational differences and perspectives and turn those negatives into positives. Each group's talent and most common differences are discussed in the following sections:


The Silent generation is adaptive in nature and has a very intense sense of loyalty and dedication. They are also known as Traditionalist.

Many of them have been puppets, paupers, or pirates. As a result, they have a wealth of knowledge to contribute to any organization. Some in this group are not leaving the workforce yet. It’s important to note that some can't leave due to financial reasons. Others love their work, are still in good health, and want to continue to contribute to the organization.

The work ethic of the Silent Generation is built on commitment, responsibility, and conformity as tickets to success. Most came of age too late to be the heroes of World War II, yet too early to participate in the youthful rebelliousness of the 1960s "Consciousness Revolution." On the job, they are not likely to "rock the boat," break the rules, or disrespect authority. Tempered by war, a command and control approach comes naturally.

The challenge for leaders is how to empower Silent employees-to find out what motivates them and then tailor the job to each individual's needs. They still want respect for contribution and longevity. It's also crucial that leaders don't let them think that their time has come, that they should go. They have a loyalty and commitment that is increasingly hard to find in younger employees.

It would be very beneficial for the organization to team up a seasoned Silent employee with a Generation Xer or Yer on a project to foster knowledge transfer both ways. Veterans bring the institutional and historical experience whereas Xers and Yers often bring the technological and innovational savvy. Also, Silent employees can be trained in new technology.

Some leaders believe that training them on a new technology or process is a bad investment due to their age. This type of thinking doesn't add value to the organization. Due to their hard-working attitudes, they can be just as easily trainable and probably more accepting of this new training than other generations.

Baby Boomers

Boomers, idealists in nature, have always been seen as loyal to their organizations. They feel a sense of belonging and dedication based on their history. The Baby Boom Generation changed the physical and psychological landscape forever. As products of "the Wonder Years," they were influenced by the can-do optimism of John F. Kennedy and the hope of the post-World War II dream. But the intense social and political upheaval of Vietnam, assassinations, and civil rights, led them to rebel against conformity and to carve a perfectionist lifestyle based on person al values and spiritual growth. They welcome team-based work, especially as an anti-authoritarian declaration to "The Silents" ahead of them, but they can become very political when their turf is threatened. Rocked by years of reorganizing, reengineering, and relentless change, they now long to stabilize their careers.

One of the most common complaints Boomers make about Gen Xers and Gen Yers is that "they don't have the same work ethic." This does not mean that they are not hardworking employees, but it does mean that they place a different value and priority on work.

Boomers are motivated by:

• Power and prestige. Boomers are often traditionalists, and perks of the position matter. They want titles and authority commensurate with responsibility.

• Networking and Learning. Boomers want to participate in associations and conventions that keep them professionally connected to their peers. Boomers are motivated by working together on professional projects in affiliation with others like them.

• Long-Term Benefits. Boomers are interested in compensation that is more long term, such as profit sharing and health care benefits including long-term care.

Generation (Gen) Xers

In general, Gen Xers are those born during the 1960s and 1970s. This generation, therefore, includes a range of employees in their thirties, for ties, and early fifties.

The Gen Xers, often-maligned, so named because no one could settle on an accurate definition, are characterized by an economic and psycho logical "survivor" mentality. They grew up very quickly amid rising divorce rates, latchkeys, violence, and low expectations. They entered the job market in the wake of the Boomers, only to be confronted with new terms like "downsizing" and "RIFs" (reductions-in-force) as the economy plunged into recession. It's hardly surprising then that they tend to be skeptical toward authority and cautious in their commitments. Their self reliance has led them, in unprecedented numbers, to embrace "free agency" over organizational loyalty. Ambitious and independent, they're now striving to balance the competing demands of work, family, and personal life.

Gen Xers bring new challenges as well as new ideas into the labor market. They want and demand benefits such as stock option plans, health care insurance, and time off (paid vacation, sick days, personal leave days). They tend to be less motivated by promises of overtime pay and more motivated by personal satisfaction with their jobs. The number one benefit for Generation Xers is training/development opportunities to enhance/further their careers. They want to grow in their jobs and learn new skills.

Gen Xers don’t anticipate staying with one job or company through out their entire career. They have seen their parents laid off. Many of them have grown up in divorced family situations. They expect to change jobs as they seek employment that offers them both better benefits and more opportunity for professional growth as well as personal fulfillment. They want, and expect, their employers to hear what they have to say. They have an interest in understanding the "big picture" for the organization and how this influences their employment and growth. They are less likely to accept a "because I said so" attitude from a supervisor.

Some of the ways to motivate Gen Xers to maximize productivity: Take time to be personal.

Thank an employee for doing a good job in person, in writing, or both.

Listen to what employees have to say, both in a one-on-one situation and in a group meeting.

Encourage growth. Provide feedback on the employee's performance. Make sure the employee understands expectations. Involve them in the decision making process whenever possible.

Provide Training. Pay for employees to attend workshops and seminars. Provide on-site classes where employees can learn new skills or improve upon old ones. Challenge them.

Motivate through Rewards and Promotions.

Recognize employees who have done an outstanding job by giving an unexpected reward, such as a day off or a free dinner for employees and their family at a nice restaurant.

Encourage Teamwork.

Provide opportunities for collaboration and teamwork. This generation "fuels their fire" through teamwork.

Create Ownership.

Help employees understand how the business operates. They need to experience a sense of ownership. Encourage this by providing them with information about new products or services, advertising campaigns, strategies for competing, etc. Let each employee see how he or she fits into the plan and how meeting their goals contribute to meeting the organization's objectives.

Build morale.

Have an open work environment; encourage initiative, and welcome new ideas. Don't be afraid to spend a few dollars for such things as free coffee or tea for employees, or ordering a meal for employees who have to work overtime. Take time to speak with an employee's spouse or family when you meet them and let them know you appreciate the employee. Gen Xers look for more than just fair pay; they need and want personal acknowledgment and job satisfaction.

Generation (Gen) Yers

In general, Gen Yers are those born after 1980. They are also known as Echo-Boom or Millennial generation. This generation, therefore, includes a range of employees from those approaching their late 20s and all the way to older teenagers just entering the job market. Coming of age during a shift toward virtue and values, they're attracted to organizations whose missions speak to a purpose greater than a bottom line. They're technologically savvy with a positive, can-do attitude that says, "I'm here to make a difference." And they will.

To motivate Gen Yers, consider the following suggestions: Work Schedule Flexibility.

Provide Gen Yers flexibility in when and where work is done. Gen Yers resist what they see as rigid workday starting times. They don’t understand why coming to work 15-30 minutes late is viewed by Boomers as irresponsible behavior.

Change and Challenges.

Gen Yers are interested in change and challenge. They will leave a higher-paying good job for the opportunity to experience something new.

They don’t see their careers as needing to be linear. They stay in a particular job often no more than two to three years.

Don’t interpret their rebellious nature as negative. Caution! Sometime they need to vent out; let them do it. Don’t take it personally.

This generation will challenge and change much of what we need to change.

Although Gen Xers and Gen Yers are motivated by different things, both age groups need the following:

• Frequent communication, including being told the "why" and not just the "what" of projects and priorities.

• To be included, and not just in what affects them most directly.

• To have fun at work.

In order for an organization to be truly successful, all co-existing generations in the workplace need to understand and value each other, even when their perspectives and goals are different.

As Silents, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Yers intersect in the workplace, their attitudes, ethics, values, and behaviors inevitably collide. Nearly 70% of participants in a recent Web poll say they're experiencing a "generational rift." Organizations need to look beyond this clash of the generations for ways to leverage multi-generational perspectives to their benefit. If we take the time to master a few tools and strategies for communicating across generations, we'll be better positioned to tap the best that each generation as well as each individual brings to the workplace. Here are some suggestions:

• It's not what we say, but how we say it. Generational clashes often stem from miscommunications in tone or style. The Silents , for example, are aware that they might be technologically challenged; empathy is a better strategy than decision. The younger generations, in general, might have shorter attention spans than their seniors, so they may prefer verbal training to reading documents.

• Understand the different generational motivations. Gen Xers may seem to be less driven, and Baby Boomers managing Gen Xers should know that money usually isn't the motivating force. It's quality of life. We should look for ways to support Gen Xers' balanced lifestyle.

• Look beyond appearances. Benefit from diverse opinions. Keep an open mind about attitudes. Adapt style to the realities of today's workplace.

We're living through profound changes in the business world.

Traversing this generational landscape, bolstered by new learning and respect for differing ideals about the workplace, will get the job done better and faster. Look for what unites us with our peers. We will be better prepared to welcome the generation that comes next.

Each generation has complained about those in other groups. So the fact that there are differences in the generations is nothing new. What is new today is the magnitude of the differences. It’s time to understand and value this diversity so that we can benefit from it. Failing to do this can result in failure for everyone.

5. Communication Skills

Why Communication Is Important

People in organizations typically spend over 75% of their time in interpersonal situations to get work done. It’s no surprise to find that poor communications are at the root of a large number of organizational problems. Effective communication is an essential component of organization al success whether it’s at the interpersonal, inter-group, intra-group, organizational, or external level.

Effective communication is all about conveying messages to other people clearly and unambiguously. It's also about receiving information that others send to us, with as little distortion as possible.

Expressing our feelings, thoughts, and opinions clearly and effectively is only half of the communication process needed for interpersonal effectiveness. The other half is listening and understanding what others communicate to us. When we decide to communicate with another person, we do it to fulfill a need. In deciding to communicate, we select the method or code which we believe will effectively deliver the message to the other person. The code used to send the message can be either verbal or nonverbal. When the other person receives the coded message, they go through the process of decoding or interpreting it into understanding and meaning.

Effective communication exists between two people when the receiver interprets and understands the sender's message in the same way the sender intended it. By successfully getting the message across, we convey our thoughts and ideas effectively. When not successful, the thoughts and ideas that we actually send don’t necessarily reflect what we think, causing a communications breakdown and creating roadblocks that stand in the way of our and the organization's success-both personally and professionally.

Communication Process

Problems with communication can be at every stage of the communication process (see FIG. 1):

• Sender (source)

• Encoding

• Channel-media

• Decoding

• Receiver

• Feedback

At each stage, there is the potential for misunderstanding and confusion. To be effective communicators and to get our point across without misunderstanding and confusion, our goal should be to reduce the frequency of problems at each stage of this process, with clear, concise, accurate, well-planned communications. The key elements of communication process as shown in Fig. 10.1 are:

FIG. 1 Communication process

• Sender. We, the senders, the source of the message, need to be clear about why we're communicating, and what we want to communicate. In addition, the senders need to ensure that the information being communicated is useful and accurate.

• Message. The message is the information that we want to communicate.

• Encoding. This is the process of transferring the information we want to communicate into a form that can be sent and correctly decoded at the other end. Successful encoding depends partly on our ability to convey information clearly and simply, but also to anticipate and eliminate sources of confusion. For example, cultural issues, wrong assumptions, and missing information can interfere with clear communication. Failure to understand whom we are communicating with will result in delivering messages that are misunderstood.

• Channel. We convey our message through the channel or media.

Channels can be verbal, including face-to-face meetings, telephone, and videoconferencing. Written channels include letters, emails, memos, and reports.

• Decoding. In order to understand the message correctly, we must decode it, which involves taking time to read the message carefully or listening actively. Just as confusion can arise from encoding errors, it can also arise from decoding errors. This is particularly the case if the decoder doesn't have enough knowledge to under stand the message. Listening is a very important skill which will be discussed in more detail in the next section.

• Receiver. The receiver is the person for whom the message was intended. Caution: To be a successful communicator, we should consider how the receiver will react to the message.

• Feedback. Feedback is what the receiver sends back to us as verbal and nonverbal reactions to our communicated message. We need to pay close attention to this feedback, as it’s the only thing that can give us assurance the audience has understood our message. If we find that there has been a misunderstanding, at least now we have the opportunity to send the message a second time to clarify the issue. Part of the feedback process involves under standing and predicting how the other person will react. We need to understand ways that we respond to feedback, especially threatening feedback. Feedback provides the basic need to improve, and to be accurate. It can be reinforcing, if given properly. It’s crucial that we realize how critical feedback can be; it should always be appreciated.

Importance of Listening

"We were given two ears but only one mouth, that we may hear the more and speak the less."

-Greek philosopher Xeno

Listening is one of the most important skills we can have. How well we listen has a major impact on our job effectiveness, and on the quality of our relationships with others. We listen to:

• Obtain information

• Understand

• Enjoy

• Learn

There are three basic listening modes:

• Competitive Listening. This happens when we are more interested in promoting our own point of view than in understanding or exploring someone else's view. We listen either for openings to take the floor, or for flaws or weak points we can attack. We don't pay any attention to the "sender," but instead are formulating our rebuttal plan.

• Passive or Attentive Listening. In this mode, we are genuinely interested in hearing and understanding the other person's point of view. We’re attentive and passively listen.

• Active Listening. In active listening, we are genuinely interested in understanding what the other person is thinking, feeling, or wanting, and what the message means. We actively check out our understanding before we respond with our own new message.

Listening is a skill that we can all benefit from improving. By becoming better listeners, we will improve our productivity, as well as our ability to influence, persuade, and negotiate. What's more, we'll avoid conflict and misunderstandings-all necessary for workplace success.

Becoming an Active Listener

There are five elements of active listening. They all help us ensure that we hear the other person, and that the other person knows we are hearing what they are saying.

1. Pay attention.

Give the speaker undivided attention and acknowledge the message.

• Look at the speaker directly.

• Put aside distracting thoughts.

• "Listen" to the speaker's body language.

• Refrain from side conversations and avoid being distracted by environmental factors.

2. Show that we are listening.

Use body language and gestures to convey that we are listening.

• Nod occasionally.

• Smile and use other facial expressions.

• Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like "yes" and "uh huh."

3. Provide feedback.

Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, our role is to understand what is being said.

This may require us to reflect what is being said and ask questions.

• Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. "What I'm hearing is…" and "Sounds like you are saying…" are great ways to reflect back.

• Ask questions to clarify certain points. "What do you mean when you say…?" or "Is this what you mean?"

4. Defer judgment. Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message. If you don't agree with the speaker's view, wait till you hear the full story or till the end during the question and answer period to bring your viewpoint. It's the speaker who is speaking.

• Allow the speaker to finish.

• Don't interrupt with counterarguments.

5. Avoid negative mannerisms, but respond.

Everyone has a mannerism. If a mannerism is encouraging and brings positive response, do it often. Unfortunately, some mannerisms are negative or distracting. These should be avoided.

• Tapping a pencil /pen or playing with a rubber band or other objects

• Continually looking at the watch or clock

• Reading guide or reports or texting/emailing

• Displaying arrogance or lack of interest

Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener. Old habits are hard to break; it requires a lot of self-discipline to do it.

Effective Team Meetings

Meetings are wonderful tools for generating ideas, expanding on thoughts and managing group activity. But this face-to-face contact with team members and colleagues can easily fail without adequate preparation and leadership. Effective communication is an enabler to make meetings successful.

To ensure everyone involved has the opportunity to provide their input, establish meeting rules-where, when, and how long. This will allow all participants the time needed to adequately prepare for the meeting.

Once a meeting time and place have been chosen, ensure that the leader or coordinator is available for questions that may arise as participants prepare for the meeting. As the meeting leader, make a meeting agenda, complete with detailed notes.

In these notes, outline the goal and proposed structure of the meeting, and share this with the participants. This will allow all involved to prepare and to come to the meeting ready to work together to meet the goals at hand.

The success of the meeting depends largely on the skills displayed by the meeting leader. To ensure the meeting is successful, the leader should:

• Issue an agenda.

• Start the discussion and encourage active participation.

• Work to keep the meeting at a comfortable pace-not moving too fast or too slow.

• Summarize the discussion and the recommendations at the end of each logical section.

• Ensure all participants receive minutes promptly.

Managing Meetings

Choosing the right participants is key to the success of any meeting.

Make sure all participants can contribute; choose good decision-makers and problem-solvers. Try to keep the number of participants to a maxi mum of 12, preferably fewer. Make sure the people with the necessary information for the items listed in the meeting agenda are the ones who are invited.

As a meeting leader, work diligently to ensure everyone's thoughts and ideas are heard by guiding the meeting so that there is a free flow of debate with no individual dominating and no extensive discussions between two people. As time dwindles for each item on the distributed agenda, it will be necessary to stop the discussion, then quickly summarize the debate on that agenda item, and move on the next item on the agenda.

When an agenda item is resolved or action is agreed upon, make it clear who in the meeting will be responsible for this. In an effort to bypass confusion and misunderstandings, summarize the action to be taken and include this in the meeting's minutes.

Meetings are notorious for eating up people's time. Here are some ways of ensuring that time is not wasted in meetings:

• Start on time.

• Don't recap what you've covered if someone comes in late. It sends the message that it’s OK to be late for meetings, and it wastes everyone else's valuable time.

• State a finish time for the meeting and don't over-run. If needed to over-run, ensure everyone is available to stay for a stated period.

• To help stick to the stated finish time, arrange your agenda in order of importance so that if you have to omit or rush items at the end to make the finish time, you don't omit or skimp on important items.

• Finish the meeting before the stated finish time if you have achieved everything you need to.

Minutes record the decisions of the meeting and the actions agreed.

They provide a record of the meeting and, more important, they provide a review document for use at the next meeting so that progress can be measured-this makes them a useful disciplining technique as individuals' performance and non-performance of agreed actions is given high visibility.


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